The other day I went to the USCF web site to see what they charged for certain items I am carrying now in the equipment line and how they figured shipping costs.
Total nightmare. I clicked on the item (in this case a carrying bag) and it said, in effect, "Hey Floyd you have to enter the quantity amount first before checking the cart." There was no place to enter the quantity amount! I looked at some other items just to make sure and they did have a place for the Quantity. (Competing for messiness, legalism, and just in general a rotten web site is Wholesale Chess, which may be the worst chess web site I have ever seen.)
I checked my invoice from my supplier to see how much shipping costs via UPS were, they were high, about $4.00+ for each bag I stocked! I know they get their bags for less than my wholesale price or else they are really crazy. But after I totaled it up, they make about $2-4 on each bag they sell. This is insane and goes toward explaining how they don't make any money, or very little, on their sales. Just like in the days when Al Lawrence was "running" it.
But what I really noticed was that they offered NO LIVE telephone service and I KNOW why. People who order by phone take way too much time to get their order in. Or, they have crazy questions. Or they want preferential treatment. Or they want to return something. Or they are incompetent at using a web portal. All these reasons and more. This takes time and as Einstein discovered, Time = $. How do I know this is true of the USCF? Because it has happened to me too (phone sales), BUT, I had a friend named Wray McAllister who used to work there. (He's even pictured in my out of print book, The Chess Assassin's Business Manual.)
Myself, I try to avoid using the phone when I can. But I still get those who ask "how much is..." so and so when I have mentioned it at least twenty thousand times. Or, who order from catalogs I haven't used in months instead of the current offerings. Virtually all of my business with wholesalers or distributors is done using email. The BIG advantage of using email is that it CREATES a copy of what you sent in the "Sent file." Over the phone it can creat, Disagreements, who said what? A real life example I may have mentioned in one of my writings. A lady, in front of me at an ice cream counter, is upset because she was given a chocolate shake with MALT in it! She's giving it to the counter girl in spades. I just leaned in and said, "I heard you too, you ordered it with malt." (That stuck in my mind because, I don't like malt.) But an email creates a record.
SECRET: Emails are processed before anything else at my place, but, unlike the USCF, I do take phone calls. I do make things right if there is a goof (whomever's fault it is). I do answer questions, but briefly. So if I am a little short (as in brief), I am not mad at anyone, I am just trying to get off the phone to get work done and make a profit. I don't often promote my phone number. For example, while I sell SCORE at $20, if I am on the phone for 20 minutes answering questions about it, I haven't made a dime and in fact I've lost everything that SCORE would pay for! So I don't answer questions like that, it is simply, "I'll send you a brochure." Some people want to yack because THEY have some free time.
No one gets rude with me and my customers know that, but I know people who have been rude to those who used to answer USCF phone lines. Invariably they wanted something they weren't paying for, which often was, to chat about something. Some people won't buy anything unless they read a review. That's another good reason to subscribe to SCORE, I have lots of reviews. In issue #3 there is one major review and 6 smaller ones. If I want to get mail, all I have to say is, "Reviews on Amazon are almost worthless." And most of them are. I am not referring to just chess reviews, but reviews on other subjects of which I am quite knowledgeable. Some want something for nothing and if they buy a book HOPING "X" is in the book, they want to return it because "X" was not in there. Morons. Is your time worth ANYTHING? As many know, I read on all kinds of subjects and have for 30-40 years. Now that we have the eBook with us, so far I am NOT overwhelmed. I saw a friend's "Kindle" at a computer store the other day. He was showing "sharing" features with members of his family, etc. Yeah, right, sleepy time. I briefly saw a picture of a Scribe I was absolutely taken with and asked him to GO BACK to that as I wanted to find out more. The idea was for a book cover I want to do. He couldn't find it! It wasn't simply "BACK" it was probably some advertisement! If I ever get one of those things (hmmm) it will be those with NO ADS in them in the first place.
THE ABBAZIA 1912 PDF
This 75 -page PDF, book size, with annotated games for registrants of the Red Wing Chess Soiree went out this morning. It is automatically included for those who have plunked down their money. It is the Commemorative Red Wing edition. It also allows them to get the printed edition (which will have more stuff and a different format) at a HUGE discount. Whether I will sell this very helpful PDF, which of course can be printed out, I have not yet made up my mind about. In that PDF you also get a quote from the genius who won the event, Rudolph Spielmann, about why the King's Gambit should be omitted from play. He hadn't yet heard of Spassky, Fischer, Bronstein, and especially Magnus Carlsen or Joe Gallagher.
This PDF will be part of my Workshop talk on Preparation and Publication.
SIMON WILLIAMS DVDS
His new ones are here. I don't have them in huge depth because the ship time to me is quick, and I would like to find out what the interest is. They just came in yesterday and I have NO review copies to look at. Having seen Aagaard's games with Nick Pert and reading about Gawain Jones (and his new book on the Sicilian) I am sure they will be terrific. Of course the BRAINS behind these DVDs is GM Simon Williams. They are superior to ChessBase DVDs and anyone else's including mine. I have on hand several sets of Pert's two DVD volumes on the KILLER ENDGAME (retail is $59.90, of course my prices are less, see the recent Chess Gazettes I've sent out) and GM Gawain Jones on the KILLER GRAND PRIX. $29.95 retail, see CG #158 for discount pricing. I'm absolutely convinced you will get 10X as much material on the endgame on the Pert series than anyone every did on Dzindzi's earlier videos. Dzindzi's endgame stuff was first rate, there just wasn't enough of it.
MY FAUX PAS
Pillsbury the Fencer should have been here by now, but I won't have them until next week and it is MY fault, again. I didn't want a "proof" so I thought my order would be automatically filled. It wasn't. So I had to unleash the "forms" to get what I want. For those who have FREE copies coming, and have had free copies of Alekhine the Executioner coming too, I will mail everything out next week. I apologize for being an idiot on this. I'm also working on the Capablanca one and HOPE beyond hope to get that one right!
That's enough for now.